The Karlevi rune stone, Vickleby parish, Öland (Öl 1)

I promised to get back to you with some further information on the Karlevi rune stone.

It is placed on the island Öland in Vickleby parish and has the signum Öl 1. The inscription is dated to ca 1000 AD. Part of the inscription on the Karlevi rune stone is written in dróttkætt, an Iron Age metre. It is the only rune stone with a complete dróttkætt on it. The name in itself is interesting; drótt is a collective word that can be translated into; a chieftain or someone who had sworn retainers. In other words dróttkætt could be translated into a verse or metre suitable for a chieftain or court of sort. It includes two  kenningar, a kenning is a euphemism for something, often euphemistically.

The inscription1:

s-a… –(s)- i(a)s * satr * aiftir * si(b)(a) * kutha * sun * fultars * in hons ** lithi * sati * at * u * -ausa-th-… +: fulkin : likr : hins : fulkthu : flaistr (:)* uisi * that * maistar * taithir : tulka * thruthar : traukr : i : thaimsi * huki * munat : raith:uithur : ratha : ruk:starkr * i * tanmarku : –ntils : iarmun**kruntar : urkrontari : lonti

Inscription in latin letters:  IN NONIN-  +HE… …

The first strophe is quite ordinary: “This stone is set up in memory of…” The second strophe goes as follows:

Folginn liggr hinn’s fylgðu

(flestr vissi Þat) mestar

Dáðir dolga Þrúdar

Draugr í Þeimsi haugi

Mun-at reið-Viðurr ráda

Rógstarkr í Danmǫrku

Endils iǫrmungrundar

Ørgrandari landi

Translation into English:

This stone is set up in memory of Sibbi Gódhi/Godhi, son of Foldarr, and his retinue set on … Hidden lies the one whom followed (most know that) the greatest deeds, Thrud’s warrior of battles, in this mound. Never will a more honest, hard-fighting ‘wagon-Vidhurr’ upon Endill’s expanses rule the land in Denmark. [This stone is placed in memory of Sibbi the good, Fuldarr’s son, and his retinue placed on … … He lies concealed, he who was followed by the greatest deeds (most men knew that), a chieftain (battle-tree of [the Goddess] Thrúdhr) in this howe; Never again shall such a battle-hardened sea-warrior (Vidhurr-of-the-Carriage of [the Sea-king] Endill’s mighty dominion ( = God of the vessels of the the sea) ), rule unsurpassed over land in Denmark.]  In latin letters: In the name of Jesus(?) …

The stone was erected for the chieftain Sibbe, Foldar’s son, on the stone he is called dólga Þrúdar draugur; the last word draugur is a well known kenning for ‘warrior, doer, performer of battles’, dólg means ‘hostility, strife, battle’ and Þrúdar is the name of one of Thor’s daughters, a goddess in norse mythology. According to Sven B.F. Jansson2 the translation should be something like; executor, performer of the goddess in battle or warrior, warlord.

Another interesting passage in the runic text is the word another kenning, devided into two strophes: reið-Viðurr + Endils iǫrmungrund. Endill is the name of a Sea-king, iǫrmungrund ‘mighty ground’, reið means ‘a wagon (chariot)’ and Viðurr is another name for the god Odin. This could be interpreted as; The God of ships (wagons of the sea) is the Sea-King (or warrior), according to Klaus Düwel3 – in this case Sibbe might be seen as the Sea King or perhaps that he sails with the sea-King or is with Odin. The word iǫrmungrund is also interesting as it appears in Beowulf and Grimnismál as well which puts it in a larger geographical context than just Öland as do the mentioning of Denmark.

The latin inscription is also interesting:  IN NONIN-  +HE… … It has been interpreted as In the name of Jesus(?) … … So the inscription is also part of a Christian context both regarding the letters and religion.

Magnus Reuterdahl

More information:

  1. The runic database Samnordisk runtextdatabas
  2. Jansson, Sven B.F. 1997. Runes in Sweden.
  3. Düwel, Klaus 2001. Runenkunde, dritte Auflage.r, troligen naturligt.
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About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

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